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Belostoma129 karma

If you like that song, check out The Devil Comes Back to Georgia, a sequel to the song with Johnny Cash singing and an amazing fiddler Mark O'Connor.

Belostoma71 karma

I think the biggest misconception people have is if you don't have straight As you aren't cut out for a career in science or astrophysics, or if math doesn't come "naturally" to you it's impossible.

I have to disagree about this being a misconception, at least with regard to astrophysics. (Other areas of science are accessible to those who struggle with math.) I'll share my experience not because I want to discourage you in your career -- I truly appreciate what an incredible thing you've accomplished! -- but because I think encouraging others to pursue this route is not always the most helpful to them, and it might be useful to hear the kind of advice I wish I had received.

I had a laughably easy time with math and physics in an average high school, and it didn't take much work to grade near the top of my engineering-track Calculus I-III classes at an Ivy League college, even as the engineers complained about them as weed-out courses for their majors. Yet I was hit like a freight train by the honors physics track there en route to an astronomy major, working 4-8 hours per day on a single class, in study groups with friends who tested out of Calc 3 as incoming freshmen, all so we could be prepared to score 60 % on the physics tests and get curved to a B+.

There were a couple people in each class working far less hard and scoring 95+ on all the tests. Those were the supergeniuses with the real talent to do the kinds of things I wanted to do in astrophysics. Nobody told me about them beforehand. All I heard from parents, teachers, advisors, and mentors in my early pursuit of a career in astrophysics was encouragement. I wish somebody had been willing to speak up with a reality check about the kind of innate talent it takes to really excel in that field.

I realized in my last few semesters that I didn't want to continue on this track, and that was really difficult. Partly, I think the problem was that I was conditioned in high school to enjoy being one of the best at what I'm doing academically, and working my ass off to figure out things that some of my colleagues could figure out 10-100X faster and easier just didn't seem appealing. There isn't a theoretical problem I could solve in 10 years that Ed Witten couldn't solve in 10 minutes.

I finished my degree as a math major and went on to a Ph.D. in biology and a math-heavy career in ecology. I love the substance of my new field, but I also love that the same mathematical skill level that would have made me a mediocre astrophysicist allows me to do really innovative things in ecology, and to me that's way more fulfilling. I'm grateful that my start in the direction of astrophysics is part of what prepared me for what I can do now -- but the transition was traumatic, it took years to feel completely good about it, and I wouldn't encourage anyone else to go through the same thing.

On balance, I do wish there'd been some voice in my early life to temper all the generic, feel-good "you can do anything you set your mind to" advice with a clearer picture of the difficulty involved and realistic expectations for what I might have achieved in a field that attracts some of the smartest people in the world. Since you're giving that kind of feel-good advice, which might be just what some people need to hear, I figured this story might be some good food for thought.

Belostoma41 karma

Hopefully that's the answer to "how long does it take" and not "how old is too old."

Belostoma33 karma

A cliffhanger is meant to ensure viewers come back.

Well, that's not always the only purpose. Sometimes it's fun and thought-provoking and suspenseful. The ending to Season 2 of Better Call Saul had a good cliffhanger in the form of a mysterious one-word note.

The problems with TWD's cliffhanger are that (1) we are left wondering what already happened, not what will happen, and (2) it's a roll of the dice. We are literally left wondering about the outcome of a game of eenie-meenie-minie-moe. There's no room for clever speculation about what will happen next, or what surprises may be in store. It's just which one they randomly picked.

Belostoma31 karma

All the great cliffhangers I can remember have left the audience anticipating the answer to some mysterious, open-ended question about what happens next: “How is our protagonist going to respond to THIS mess?” Or perhaps, “What interesting twist does this sign portend?” But I don’t ever remember a decent cliffhanger in which the audience knows exactly what happened, except that some crucial detail was hidden, so that there’s no more mystery involved than in a roll of the dice. Why did you think that would work?